Here’s a story Facebook won’t “like”. A recent study by outbrain.com suggests that social media doesn’t drive website traffic as well as traditional mediums. The study, which looked at traffic patterns from 100 million sessions across more than 100 premium publishers revealed that on average, direct, in-site and unknown traffic sources account for the 67% of website traffic while social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can only account for 11%. Numbers like these are making senior executives curious and online media and marketing firms nervous.
Social media has long been lauded as the new darling of modern marketing and the growth rates of Facebook and Twitter continue to climb exponentially. The internet is awash with urban legends of tiny start ups who continue to make millions from their “likes” and “tweets” and the fever has turned into a modern day gold rush. Everyone it seems, is trying to stake their online claim. Unfortunately, many aren’t finding the golden nuggets once promised and more are wondering why their social media strategy isn’t working as advertised.
The problem is that people aren’t logging in to Facebook or Twitter to shop, they are logging in to check up on friends and family. Most enjoy the occasional posted pictures and others occasionally debate someone’s obnoxious post, but no one logs in to find an attorney, chiropractor or mortgage lender. Facebook and Twitter are supposed to be an escape from those things, not a doorway to more of them. Is anyone really surprised? For those consumers who actually click on Facebook banner ads, the results are horrible for those trying to sell.
The outbrain study shows that website traffic from social media sites are among the worst. On average the bounce rates is higher and the page views the lowest. Even if Facebook and Twitter is driving traffic to your door, statistically it’s not the kind of traffic you need. For many, there are better ways to spend that marketing budget.
A well designed website, with a great user experience, original content and keyword rich context still trumps referral traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Conversion rates are higher when someone is looking for your exact product or service, versus throwing products and services at people who aren’t looking for them.
Facebook and Twitter are great tools to drive awareness which is key to any marketing strategy, but it’s just one part of a well designed marketing plan. Awareness, interest, evaluation and commitment need to be well organized to drive the right kind of traffic. A combination of these elements is even better. When implemented correctly, a great online media and marketing plan increases sales and leads the way to a healthier bottom line. Now that’s something everyone will “like.”
*This article was picked up and published by Technorati.com